At dawn on December 19th 2009, I stood with my then eleven year old son inside Newgrange, a 5,000 year old ancient temple in the Boyne valley, County Meath in Ireland, watching a streak of light creep steadily across the floor and illuminate the chamber. Newgrange is older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza.
I stood there, that cold December morning, holding a stranger’s hand and my son’s hand in the darkness, awaiting the moment of illumination, feeling at peace, hollowed out, empty, and light.
I realised that 5,000 years of ancestors did this same act of waiting for the winter solstice sun to arise and remind the world that the longer days were approaching. In the great scheme of this world and its existence, I was just a drop in the ocean of humanity, insignificant on my own, yet powerful when connected with others.
I wondered what it would be like if the entire world could experience this feeling of peace, being connected with their ancestors, holding hands in the dark, and waiting for the light to arrive? A conscientious global moment of quiet.
The dark is a scary place. We are filled with ignorance and fear about what lies directly in front of us. In the moments before the inner chamber dawn illumination, the artificial lighting was turned off; we were surrounded by a dense blackness. My son gripped my hand a little tighter, and my fingers grasped the tiny hand closer to me. Aren’t we all childlike in the darkness of ignorance?
Afraid of the things we don’t know, imagining the horrors that might be, we stood huddled close in the stone chamber waiting for sunrise. Then, as the beam of light stretched its way across the chamber floor, weightlessness, that hollowed out and empty feeling; not a feeling of empty as in devoid of hope, the complete opposite, I felt connected with everything and everyone around me.
I wanted to write this post for a long time, but shied away from it. Of all the lovely memories I have with my son, this is my favorite. I can’t even do it justice with the written word, but I tried.